We need to soften ‘change of use’ policy to develop brownfield sites

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Nick Hall’s ‘thorough disagreement’ with the Express’ ‘NIMBY’ editorial (January 18) misinterprets the issue I believe the writer was trying to address.

Yes, there is a pressing need for more houses but these must be built in the right place, for the right customer and at the right price.

So many developments comprise executive homes, inevitably set in rural locations and a good distance from amenities like public transport, schools and GPs’ surgeries.

Regarding the Newick scheme, yes, of course private cars will just be displaced from one spot to another, but in most cases this is from town to country.

Sorry, but development does inevitably mean more cars on the road.

You can walk to a good selection of shops in Lewes, you cannot in Newick.

You use the car. And you probably need two, plus somewhere to park them.

In Newick, Heathfield, Uckfield, Ringmer, the outskirts of Lewes and elsewhere, new homes access onto rural lanes where people walk and children play.

Wildlife and important farmland disappears, the AONB is threatened, trees are uprooted - has Mr Hall seen the devastation in Crowborough’s Mead House car park or witnessed crude attempts to kill inconvenient trees before consent has even been sought?

Country inevitably degenerates into partially developed and valueless land which in turn spawns even more concrete.

‘Smug, self centred and obstructionist’ might apply to someone objecting to a block of flats in their front garden.

But he does not realise many of us NIMBYs work with parish councils and countryside protection bodies like the Campaign to Protect Rural England to hold onto what is worth preserving.

Not just in our back yard, we care about others’ yards too.

While he is on the case, why not lobby for a shift in planning policy to soften ‘change of use’ for unwanted and untenanted shops and commercial premises, allowing them to be converted into homes on existing brownfield sites?

That serves several purposes; it reinvigorates the town centre, improves footfall for local businesses and keeps people within reach of the services we all need.

Sadly developers love a greenfield plot – it saves them the bother of clearing up the land and a whole lot of money too.

Melvyn Butcher,

Sheepsetting Lane,

Heathfield